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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

UFS presents first Beyers Naudé Memorial lecture
2010-09-16

At the Beyers Naudé   Memorial lecture were, from the left: Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Rev. Cedric Mayson; and Mr Kgotso Schoeman, Chief Executive Officer of Kagiso Trust.
Photo: Dries Myburg

The seventh Beyers Naudé Memorial lecture was presented for the first time at the University of the Free State (UFS) this week. This lecture that is presented at a different university each year took place on the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein this year. Rev. Cedrick Mayson presented the lecture with under the theme: Crafting a legacy.

According to Rev. Mayson more deeply rooted forms of suppression came forward after the democratic elections in 1994. Liberation from apartheid was, according to Mason, very superficial. The poor were still severely suppressed at economic, political, cultural, religious and environmental level. “We have to apply Beyers Naudé’s legacy of liberation in these areas,” Rev. Mayson declared.

“The system according to which the rich become wealthier and the poor become poorer must be replaced by a system where everybody can have enough. This is only possible with the insight of the oppressed.

“The government and the opposition are dominated by people who seek advantage for their own gain. Regardless of democratic slogans and some enlightened individuals’ rules against corruption and violence, we lack the political will to engage in the transformation of the whole world for the good of all earthlings,” said Rev. Mayson.

According to him, consumer culture has become a fine-tuned instrument for keeping people incomplete, shallow and dehumanised.

“Religions are self-centred. Leaders from most of the religious groupings criticised apartheid but they never joined the struggle to assist in demolishing apartheid. It appears as if religious institutions are not able to address the causes of poverty because they themselves are too rich and too powerful,” said Rev. Mayson.

He ended with the following words: “What we need is a leap of faith. Beyers knew that. The world is waiting for people to claim their legacy and to accomplish a post-religious secular spirituality of ubuntu.”

Rev. Mayson is a former Head of Religious Affairs of the ANC. He had also been a former staff member of the Christian Institute before it was banned. Furthermore, he was the Editor of Pro Veritate. Before he retired, he had also been involved in the South African Council of Churches and the World Conference for Peace.

The memorial lecture, a collaborative effort of the UFS and Kagiso Trust, endeavours to involve South Africans in dialogue about issues that affect our nation. This year the lecture was presented at the UFS for the first time and it will take place on the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS next year.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
16 September 2010
 

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